By Bishop Paul Bayes
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
If you’re leading a new congregation, or planning to lead one, or wondering whether you might lead one, then this is for you. Because your ministry is absolutely vital for the future of the Church. These words from Hebrews tell us why.
The best way to find out about the Christian faith is to meet some Christians. Then you’ll see what they say, and what sense they make of our faith and of the Bible, and how they pray and how they love and how they serve. And all this will help you decide whether you want to join them, whether you too want to ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, and to come to know Him and to be drawn to His Father and filled with the Spirit. For most people, all of that depends on meeting some Christians.
“Some Christians” – not just one Christian. One-to-one evangelism is usually an essential step is our journey to faith, and all of us are called to share our faith when the moment is right. But Jesus called His friends into a community of disciples, “stirring up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” Such a community is the royal road to the growth of the church and the Faith, and to the transformation of the world into the likeness of the Kingdom of God.
Here in Liverpool Diocese we say that we’re asking God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference, and we say “More people knowing Jesus, more justice in the world”. In leading a new congregation you are absolutely central to that purpose and to that future. The people who gather around you will come to know our Lord better, and in your own community or network there will be another heartbeat of divine love, shining through the complicated, sometimes broken, always glorious people whom God has called and sent. May God bless you in your calling, and in your work, and in your community.
Bishop Paul Bayes was in parish ministry for 25 years, before becoming the Church of England’s National Mission and Evangelism Advisor. He then became the Suffragan Bishop of Hertford, before accepting an invitation to be installed as the Eighth Bishop of Liverpool in November 2014. The Diocese has developed significantly under his leadership.